LIFE Studio had the great start but Robin Hood finished stronger in Saturday’s Orange Netball Association division one grand final.
Robin Hood came from behind to win a sixth-straight title when they edged out Life Studio 46-44.
It is the fifth year in a row Robin Hood have beaten Life Studio (formerly Westoil) in the decider.
If you had left the game at half-time you would have been confident Life Studio would take the win.
But Robin Hood proved you can never take them for granted.
They were trailing 33-30 going into the final quarter and Robin Hood coach Cindy Gilchrist said nothing special was talked about in their last break.
“We just wanted to enjoy the game,” Gilchrist smiled.
And what better way to enjoy a grand final than to win it.
Every aspect of Robin Hood’s game lifted in the final quarter.
They forced Life Studio into errors, their defence was outstanding, the mid-court made smooth progress and Taylor and Sims held their nerve in the shooters circle.
It was a championship-quality quarter that delivered the goods.
After losing a fifth-straight grand final, Life Studio captain Mardi Aplin was frustrated.
“We just suck at grand finals,” Aplin joked.
“It’s always the same. They’re a team that always comes back. We lost it for ourselves.”
The first half was all Life Studio.
They raced out to a 7-1 lead before finishing the first quarter up 11-7.
The second quarter went goal-for-goal early before Life Studio were able to extend their lead to 22-16 with goal shooter Mel Vardanega nailing every shot.
At half-time Robin Hood made some changes, which proved important.
Lily Sims went on for goal shooter Kristy Sullivan and Lauren Williams replaced wing attack Leigh Florence.
Robin Hood started their comeback in the third period and had it at 27-all before Life Studio pulled away to 33-30.
Robin Hood came out hard in the final period and put on six goals to Life Studio’s one.
The defending champions took the lead for the first time in the decider with 11-and-a-half minutes to go.
They extended their lead to four goals but Life Studio kept coming at them.
With a minute left Robin Hood were up 45-44.
They converted their next centre pass and then foiled a Life Studio scoring attempt to take the dramatic win.
“Loz and Lil came on in the second half and made such a difference. Loz was key to getting the ball into the circle,” Gilchrist said of the Robin Hood changes.
“Kristy and Erin weren’t clicking in the circle, so we put Lily on and she was fantastic.”
The Robin Hood coach admitted she was nervous when her side was down by six goals at half-time.
But she never doubted their resolve.
“I always knew in the second half we’d go forward. I knew if we kept our composure, our experience would come through and it did,” she beamed.
Aplin was happy to see her side in the grand final again after an injury-plagued season.
“We’ve had a really here and there season. It was fantastic to be able to have us all on the court in the grand final,” Aplin said.
Robin Hood 46 def Life Studio 44
Quarter breakdowns: First quarter: Life Studio 11-7; Second quarter: Life Studio 22-16; Third quarter: Life Studio 33-30; Fourth Quarter: Robin Hood 46-44.